Expat Mamasita's Best Bento Basics For Kids Lunches
For a while now I have been following various blogs on bento box lunches and I decided that this was the way to go for Chiquitito's lunches.
Having researched exactly what I will be buying to start this new chapter in our lives and would like to share with you my personal top four "Bento Basics" for kids lunches, along with links to some of my favorite bento blogs and Pinterest board, Bento for Kids.
Originating in Japan, a bento meal is basically a packed lunch. Traditionally the bento meal would consist of rice with fish or meat accompanied by vegetables that are either pickled or cooked. In Japan they can either be bought ready to eat or they can be prepared in the home. Recently bento style lunches have become popular in the west, espescially for children's lunch boxes.
The bento boxes are often compartmentalised to keep the different food separate and often they are arranged in a style known as "kyaraben", which is character themed in the style of cartoon or comic book characters.
Before you can start to prepare a bento style lunch for your child you need to purchase a suitable box or see if you have anything in the cupboard that could be utlized.
I have lots of small plastic boxes that are the perfect size for a bento lunch and could be placed inside a larger container for easier carrying, but as Cicak Junior is starting pre-Kinder I decided to invest in a new box that comes with all the inserts. (see below)
Hopefully he will take ownership of this and I will not be spending hours searching through the lost property bin!
Bento-Ware Leak Proof Containers
What are bento boxes and why are they good for children?
The benefits of this style of lunch for children include:
- Arranging the food in a kiddy friendly way can encourage fussy eaters to eat their lunch.
- The box is divided into smaller areas that are the perfect size for child portions.
- You do not have to use Japanese food - you can choose whatever your child likes.
My Personal Choice of Bento Box and Accessories
I have been searching for a bento style lunchbox that is not only easy enough for my 3 year old to open, but is also leakproof and brightly coloured, and I discovered a Bento-Ware box from Laptop Lunches that fulfilled all those initial criteria.
The box comes with 5 smaller inserts, three of which have leak proof lids. The smaller one would be perfect to put a dip inside, whilst the other two could hold healthy snacks like hummus or easily spillable items like nuts.
2:Boiled Egg Mould
Chiquitito adores hard boiled eggs - or to be honest eggs of any description, but hard boiled ones are easier to put in a packed lunch. Now there is nothing wrong with just putting a plain hard boiled egg in your kid's lunch box, but wouldn't they be delighted to find they had a beautifully moulded animal shaped egg for lunch?
Yunko do a very cute 6 piece set that contains 3 animals, a car, star and heart shaped moulds which I knew would keep Chiquitito happy for a long while. The first time I tried this out and showed him he squealed with delight, and at such a pitch that I nearly lost all sense of hearing!
If you want to ring the changes, or your little one does not like to eat eggs, these moulds can also be used to make shaped balls of sushi rice.
3: Cutter/Stamp Set
Whether you want to make beautiful bear shaped sandwiches, intricately detailed cookies, or slices of fruit made to look delightful I know you will love this cutter and stamp set from CuteZCute. The six piece set includes a general animal food cutter with four personalized stamps that fit inside it.
With a choice of frog, cat, pig and panda (with a panda shaped pick to help you remove bits of remaining food from the cut-outs) any animal loving child will be delighted with their lunch.
We are still waiting for our Cutezcute set to arrive, but when it does I will be rushing to make some edible bears to share with you.
4: Jigsaw Sandwich Cutters
Moulds and tiny cutters are all well and good but what if your child wants a normal sized sandwich for lunch?
Sandwiches don't have to be boring anymore.
Once upon a time you could were limited between cutting sandwiches into boring rectangles, triangles or squares. But now, with the help of this Munchkin Silly Cutter set you can have animals or jigsaw pieces that will delight your children. This pack contains three cutter sets which will turn your little ones sandwiches into penguins, elephants or a 4-piece jigsaw.
Did You Spot What I Didn't Buy?
If you know anything at all about Bento boxes you will realise what I have missed out. You can buy a whole assortment of fancy picks, mini forks and spoons, silicone cupcake cases and even miniature toys to make your box more attractive.
This is all well and good if your child is older and not the kind of kid who is for ever losing things.
But imagine a three year old, used to having Mamasita two spaces behind him to make sure he hasn't lost anything. Out on his own for the first time, in charge of his own belongings I decided that a teacher friend's motto of KISS (keep it simple, stupid) was the best idea. I can label all the parts to his lunch box with his name and not have to worry about things getting lost.
Fancy picks and the like can wait until he is older and can be relied upon to bring everything home!
My Favorite Bento Blogs